Daily Archives: September 19, 2014

NAMI Week Nine

Wednesday afternoon I attended the ninth week of NAMI Peer-to-Peer Recovery Education Program ©. The class covered the following topics:

  • Guest Speaker – Family Member – Steve Pitman
  • Four Good Things about Hospitalization: To avoid the upheaval of a hospital stay, with the help of your support system, you can recreate thefour good things about hospitalization at home when you need it.
    1. Medical Supervision
    2. Structure/Routine
    3. Support/Others to Talk to
    4. Provision of basic necessities
  • Hot Buttons and Triggers
    • Listening to advice and accepting support from relatives can be difficult due to hot buttons and triggers, but doing so is crucial to recovery.
    • Supportive relationships are important for mental health recovery, especially when we are not doing well.
  • Working with Providers
    • They work for you – you want, need, and deserve care
    • Demand the best possible care – Ask for Patients’ Rights and Responsiblities. Feel free to ask for a second opinion.
    • Know yourself – speak up, let your provider know how you are unique
    • Be honest – your provider cannot help you without knowing what is going on
    • Be persistent – “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” = self-advocacy
    • Do your homework – Take control. Set the agenda. Make a list.
    • Bring in backup – if needed bring someone to an appointment with you
  • Advance Directive – we reviewed a sample Advance Directive for Mental Health Care Decision Making.
  • Incarceration – Survival and Preparedness
  • Mindfulness Exercise

Filed under: About God, Family, Mental Health, Mindfulness, NAMI, Posted Thoughts, Psychosocial Education, Stigma Tagged: NAMI Family-to-Family, NAMI Peer-to-Peer

The Tooth that Broke Me

Living with a chronic illness is a lonely thing.

Because you are constantly unwell, you are socially isolated. Especially when you have an illness that no one has heard of. And because you don’t have that magic hospital bracelet on, people forget you are still unwell. I forget I am still unwell. “Get over it already!” I feel like screaming when those familiar pangs of nausea start. Sheesh.

I try not to complain. I really do. Because there are so many people out there much worse off than I am. So many people out there who would give their right arm to be sitting at home with their family. I don’t feel I have the right to complain. I have a future ahead of me. Many people don’t.

But yesterday, as I was resting on the couch I noticed my bad tooth felt funny. My bad tooth has been a niggling annoyance for some years now, (thanks to an incompetent dentist who botched a root canal), accompanied by a permanent abscess that will apparently cost in the vicinity of fifteen grand to resolve. Despite the small fortune we fork out for private health insurance, it is never actually seems to cover anything, to the point where I seriously considered a life a la Breaking Bad.

Anyway. I looked in the mirror and was horrified to see that part of my tooth had fallen off. IT WAS GONE. I hadn’t even felt it move. WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON?! ‘t felt like one of those nightmares you have when all your teeth fall out – except it was actually happening. Shit just got real.

And then I broke. I’ve been through surgery, opioid, benzo and SSRI drug withdrawal, unmentionable physical examinations, countless medical procedures, electro convulsive therapy for Christ’s sake. But it was the tooth that broke me. I cried and cried, partly over the fear of treatment since, quite frankly, I would rather harvest my organs than go to the dentist. Partly through fear of the cost. And partly through the fear that I would  end up looking like a hobo.

I cried in a pathetic heap. Telling Steven that “I just couldn’t do this anymore.” I’d had a gut full. Enough was enough. Then, at the least opportune moment, Steven received a work phone call and disappeared to fix some IT thing. So that was kind of awkward.

While he was gone I tried to pull myself together. I got out my iPad and started looking up pictures of baboons. Because that always makes me laugh.

Moving on.

I eventually stopped crying. Repeated my mantra of “it could always be worse”. I fantasised on packing my family in the car and just driving off somewhere. Anywhere. Then my escape plans were thwarted by remembering that we live in the most isolated city on earth. And also I can’t run away from my tooth. Or my illness.

Then Steven came back and told me how I was reacting was “normal” (if there is such a thing). That it is better to let my feelings out than to hold them inside. Depression is often described as anger directed inwards. I had been feeling so unjustified in “complaining”, that I had been, unknowingly, keeping it all locked inside.

So here I am. Another day, another challenge. I live day to day. Sometimes hour to hour, or minute to minute. I count my blessings, and thank the universe for the people in my life who DO understand. There is only one way forward, and that IS forward. But most importantly, I give myself permission to cry. To grieve. To get angry everything that has happened. To curse my diagnosis. And my experiences.

And that goddamn tooth.

Tra La La

Tonight we met with the builder which was absolutely amazing. We also saw just how big our lot is 320000 square feet. It’s fucking huge, to say the least.

Starting next week they will digging the hole for the foundation and we are so looking forward to going out seeing things moving along. I’ve been high on life all day.

Therapy was also good. I don’t have anything to complain about today. It’s nice to a change.

Positive thinking…. Keeping it going.

Feeling SAD

No, not to worry—I’m not the least bit depressed. Today I’m going to talk about seasonal affective disorder, or SAD for short, which is not a “bipolar thing” but a common affliction among people living in the northern latitudes.

That’s not to say that folks living in the tropics don’t get it, but in places where it’s cloudy, dark, and grey during the winter, even people who don’t ordinarily suffer from depression or anxiety can be affected. The most common symptoms are excessive sleep, weight gain from indulging carbohydrate cravings, and low mood. We also tend to develop a cozy relationship with the sofa and watch a lot of TV. Dr. Awesomesauce has a nasty case of SAD and has to go to Hawaii every year to get a break from our long, dreary winters, but for us mere mortals, it’s important to get creative in dealing with it.

I have SAD pretty bad myself. I usually get through the holidays and my birthday all right but then it slams into me with hurricane force in mid-winter, rendering me dull, grumpy and depressed. I feel like a bear—all I want to do is hibernate until spring, and my disposition is unattractive at best. The only thing that helps me is a device called a dawn simulator, which is plugged into my bedside lamp. It turns itself on 15 minutes prior to the time I wake up and gradually grows brighter, just like the morning sun, so that by the time I have to be out of bed the room is illuminated as if it were mid-July.

It sounds silly, but it’s a hell of a lot better than getting up in the dark. There are also light therapy devices that provide full-spectrum lighting, which is believed to be effective in many cases of SAD. You sit under the device for 30-60 minutes or so first thing in the morning, which improves mood by tricking the brain into thinking it’s outside in the sun. A couple of friends of mine swear by their light boxes; they’re a bit out of my price range right now, but at some point I hope to get one. Note: if you purchase a light box, be sure to get one that provides full-spectrum bulbs and at least 10,000 lux (units of light); anything less will probably not be therapeutic.

Some people actually get SAD in the summer instead of the winter. They generally have to do everything back-asswards and avoid the heat and light the rest of us crave. I have a couple of relatives who loathe summer and adore the cold and damp; to say I don’t understand them would be the understatement of the week, but I respect their suffering and wish there were a cure for it.

Of course, lifestyle modifications such as proper diet and exercise are also helpful, although it’s tough to get excited about taking a walk when it’s 40 degrees and raining, and broccoli doesn’t hold much appeal unless it’s in a hearty cream soup. Honestly, I don’t know how anyone does it. I just know that it’s a good thing…..although personally I’d prefer to stow away in Dr. A’s suitcase and spend the last two weeks of February on the sands of Waikiki!